The Best of the North East -Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal

  • Aktive Kultur Reisen
  • Kultur Reisen
Tea in Assam

Overview

  • Duration: 15 days
  • States Covered: Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Total distance covered: 1800 Km
  • Airports (In): Guwahati (Assam)
  • Airport (Out): Dibrugarh (Assam)

Northeast India consisting of eight states is formed like a gigantic basin with the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys taking center stage. The northern border with Tibet is barricaded by the Himalayan landmass, in the east the densely forested Patkai range’s bordering Burma takes over running south all the way to Mizoram (which further runs off east to the Chin Hills and Arakan Yoma of Burma). In the south, the Jaintia, Khasi and Garo Hills of Meghalaya bordering Bangladesh completes the formation.

. This geographical factor added to the fact that this region also receives some of the highest rainfall on the planet has resulted in one of the greatest diversities in flora and fauna. Perhaps the same reason that makes this region so rich in its natural diversity also makes it the most Ethnic, Linguistic and Culturally diverse region in the Indian sub-continent. These tribes provide a cultural bridge between India and Southeast Asia, China, Inner Asia and Burma from ethnic and linguistic angles. These eight states themselves constitute a single linguistic region with about 220 languages in three different language groups (Indo-Aryan, Sino-Tibetan and Austroasiatic).

The ecology of the region varies from alpine tundra in the northern regions to tropical and sub-tropical rainforests in the lower areas, to grasslands and large wetland areas in the central river valleys. This variety in Eco-systems has created a haven for biodiversity.

Programm

Day 1. Guwahati to Shillong

On your arrival at Guwahati your guide will meet you and assist you on your further transfer to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. The distance of 120 Km will take about 3.5 hrs to cover. This afternoon we visit the local Archer competition. Archery is deeply entwined with Khasi culture; it is a sport as well as a way of gambling. Towards the evening a walk around the local markets.

Activity: Transfer – 120Km / 3.5 hrs., Archery, Bazar walk

Overnight: Lodge

Day 2. Shillong to Sohra (Cherappunjee)

Post breakfast we have a 30 min long drive to the Mawphlang sacred grove. Today we hike on the David Scott trail. This trail starting from Mawphlang takes us over a distance of 14 kms towards Cherapunjee.  The hike itself is not too arduous, one can cover the distance of 14km in about 5 to 6 hours. This route is a segment of the famous David Scott Trail which used to be the main mule supply route from the plains of Bangladesh to the Khasi hills and further to the Brahmaputra valley of Assam.

Your car will be waiting at the end of the trail, from where you will be transferred further to the night’s accommodation at the village of Laitkensew.

Activity: Hike – 14 Km / 5 hrs.

Overnight: Lodge

 Day 3. Sohra (Cherrapunji) Local

Living root bridges are unique to this area of Meghalaya; nowhere else in the world can you find them. The Khasi’s have developed a means of crossing the fast-flowing streams that separate their villages by taking advantage of the growth habits of the native tree – Ficus elastica, which is endemic to the region and usually grows among rocks next to water. Some of these bridges are over 500 years old. We hike through these forested trails to the Double-decker root bridge and swim in one of the numerous natural pools that dot this valley.

Activity: Hike- Root bridges / 2 hrs each way / Swim

Overnight: Lodge

Day 4: Sohra to Shnongpdeng

A day of exploring in the comfort of your vehicle. We start with a visit to the Nohkalikai falls, followed by Wei Sawdong, a three-step waterfall. Each of these visits includes a little walking. Following this we drive towards the village of Kongthong. This village is known as the ‘whistling village’. Everyone here has a tune as their name, it is quite interesting watching folks calling each other with tunes. Following this we drive towards Mawlynnong Village which is home to one of the largest living root bridges. Our destination for this day is the village of Shnongpdeng lying on the banks of the crystal-clear Umngot river. This region is the border of Bangladesh and India, the hills being Indian and the plains Bangladesh.

Activity: Transfer – 140 Km, Local visits

Overnight: Eco Lodge

Day 5: Shnongpdeng to Guwahati

Start the day with an hour-long boat ride on the Umgot river. Following this drive towards Guwahati via the the Jaintia Plataeu. Enroute visit Krangshuri Waterfalls.

Activity: Transfer 190 km, Local visits

Overnight: Hotel

Day 6. Guwahati to Sapoi Tea Estate

We start with a visit to Sualkuchi, renowned as the silk village of Assam.  Muga silk, Pat silk along with Eri silk and Endi cloth from this region is famous for its quality. Mekhela chadors and Gamosas made from these indigenous materials is in demand throughout Assam as well as other parts of India. The weaving tradition in this hamlet can be traced to the 11th century when king Dharma Pal, of the Pala dynasty, sponsored the craft and brought 26 weaving families from Tantikuchi to Saulkuchi. The village took shape as a weaving village when the ‘Shyams’ occupied Sualkuchi defeating the Mughals in the mid-17th century. Next, we make our way to our destination for the day, Sapoi Tea Estate.

Sapoi Tea Estate setup in 1914 is a family run plantation covering about 800 hectares is a typical Assamese Tea plantation. Here you will live and learn about the process of manufacturing the finest Assam Teas.  

Activity: Transfer 180 Km, Sualkuchi visit

Overnight: Tea Bungalow

Day 7: Sapoi to Kaziranga

Start the day with a visit to the factory to understand the process of tea manufacturing, followed by a visit to the fields to see how the finest teas are plucked. Post lunch we drive towards Kaziranga National Park, however enroute we have a short boat ride to spot the elusive Gangetic River Dolphins.

Activity: Transfer- 130Km, Tea factory & field visit, Dolphin spotting

Overnight: Lodge

Day 8: Kaziranga National Park

A typical day in Kaziranga starts with an early morning Elephant Safari followed by two Jeep Safaris. We try and cover three ranges of the park.

Activities: 1 x Elephant Safari, 2 x Jeep Safari

Overnight: Lodge

Day 9: Kaziranga to Majuli Island.

Today we drive towards Majuli, the largest river island of India and among some of the largest in the world. We start with an initial drive towards Neemati Ghat on the banks of the Brahmaputra River following which we have an hour-long ferry transfer. Majuli is the seat of Neo-Vaishnavite culture, a monotheistic offshoot of Hinduism. Since the 15th century, the followers of local Saint-Scholar Srimanta Sankardeva, who venerate the god Vishnu, have been building monasteries or satras here. There were more than 60 monastries, but the mighty Brahmaputra has washed away more than half of them.

We will visit some of these surviving satras. Many of the satras are centres for art, where drama and mask making are still practised and taught to the young monks. It is interesting to note that all the dramas, much like that of early England, are performed only by males.

Activity: Transfer- 140 Km, Visit- ‘Satras’ (Vaishnavite Monastry), Mask Makers, local Village visit

Overnight: Lodge

Day 10: Majuli to Inthong Village

Leaving Majuli we make our way towards Upper Assam. This is the land of Tea , Oil and coal. Your destination for this day is the village of Inthong, one of the few villages inhabited by the Singpho People in this region. The Singho are known as the Jingpaw in China and Kachin in Myanmar, interestingly it was the Singpho who were the first Tea cultivators and Tea drinkers of India.

Activity: Transfer-230 Km

Overnight: Lodge

Day 11: Inthong

Post breakfast we have a small session on the production of the original Assam tea right form plucking. This process is centuries old and does not go through any mechanical process. Next, we drive to the Nampakhe Village, which is the largest of the Tai Pakhe tribe. We have a delicious local lunch here at a local household. Next, we visit the Oil Museum at Digboi. Digboi is home to the World’s oldest functioning Oil Refinery. In fact, Digboi was one of Asia’s first oil find.

Activity: Tea making process, local visits

Overnight: Lodge

Day 12: Inthong to Deban

Post Breakfast we drive towards Deban, which is the main forest camp of Namdapha National Park. Namdapha is one of the largest protected areas of Asia as well as the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforest in the world. Today we have a 4 hr long hike to Hornbill Point. We camp here in the midst of the Rainforest. Hornbill Point is so named due to it being one of the roosting spots of the Great Hornbills. Though this park is teeming with wildlife, it is difficult to spot them due to the dense forests. However, sighting of the Great Hornbill and Hoolock gibbons is fairly common as well as other birdlife. While hiking you will have phenomenal sights of the Dapha Bum peak which is the highest peak of the region.

Activity: Transfer- 100 Km, hike 4 hrs

Overnight: Camping

Day 13: Deban to Tengapani

We retrace our steps to the Deban forest camp and drive to Tengapani, which is the heart of the Khamti region. Lying on the banks of the Tengapani (‘Sour water’) river lies the grand Golden Pagoda. Our overnight accommodation is in the relative comforts of the guest house adjoining the Pagoda. This region is home to the Theravada Buddhist Khamti Tribe, who migrated here over 500 yrs ago from Northern Myanmar. The Tai-Khamti are ardent followers of Theravada Buddhism and a Buddha Vihara is the centre of most villages. Every home contains a room for prayer and everyone in a Tai Khamti village prays twice a day. They make offerings of flowers and food to the Buddha each day. The Khamti are one of the only tribes in all of the Northeastern States to have their own script. Till the 1980’s this region used to have some of the richest villages in all of Asia, due to the teak wood and other forestry trade that flourished here. Of note are the elephant capturing and training abilities of the tribes of this region. The Khamti are sought after not just in India but also across the border in Myanmar for their elephant skills.

Activity: Hike 4 hrs, Transfer 100 km

Overnight: Lodge

Day 14: Tengapani

We use this day to explore around this beautiful region, Temples, Villages, Picnic lunch etc on the cards this day. Towards late afternoon we drive towards Parsuramkund (a pilgrimage site) for a phenomenal sunset overlooking the mouth of the Lohit River Valley.  One must keep in mind that the Khamti cuisine is quite evolved using herbs and spices unique to the tribe.

Activity: Local visits

Overnight: Lodge

Day 15: Tengapani to Dibrugarh (Depart)

Leaving Tengapani we drive to the Dibrugarh airport which will be your port of departure. The distance of about 130 Km takes 2.5 hrs to cover.

Activity: Transfer- 130 Km

Services

  • Accommodation: 14 nights
  • Transportation: Maximum 4 people per vehicle
  • All meals ( 14 x breakfast, 15 x lunch, 14 x dinner)
  • Refreshments and water during activities
  • Guide: English-speaking guide
  • all entry fees
  • Activities as mentioned
  • all permits
  • Flights
  • Visa
  • unmentioned food and beverages

Highlights

Prices and Dates

Fixed dates:

07.01.2023-21.01.2023

27.01.2024-10.02.2024

Best time to visit is from October to March

Prices:

from 2 participants per person 2350 €

from 4 participants per person 1800 €

from 6 participants per person 1650 €

Single Room Supplement Charges 350 €

Tour Info

Requirements

Our activities are moderate, but a desire for movement and a little adventure is part of it. We will visit a region that is still relatively undeveloped for tourism. Tolerance and flexibility are required!

Further Information

We are located in a remote, touristy region that is largely undeveloped. Our accommodations are all clean and well maintained, but with exceptions a little easier and without running water. During the trek we will stay in tents.

The Best of the North East -Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal

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